Moonbreaker: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more

Unknown Worlds has only recently come to prominence with the fantastic survival game Subnautica and its expansion, but the studio’s next project is about as far from that original title as possible. Rather than make a sequel or even stick in the survival genre, the team has decided to go in a completely new direction yet again. Called Moonbreaker, this sci-fi strategy game is attempting to do something not often seen in video games.

Because Moonbreaker looks so different in its presentation — using digital miniatures rather than animated models to look like a real board game — it’s not surprising that it can either come off as confusing or simply off-putting. However, there’s a lot more to this game that will appeal directly to fans of traditional tabletop games and strategy games in general. Before you write it off, check out everything we know so far about Moonbreaker.

Further reading

Release date

Key art for Moonbreaker

While not exactly a release date, Moonbreaker is coming to Steam Early Access very soon on September 29, 2022. Based on how most titles handle early access, we expect Moonbreaker to simply roll directly from this early access launch into the full 1.0 version without a break. That said, they will eventually announce when the game is going to have a “full” release at some point. The devs have only stated that it will remain in early access for as long as is required to get enough feedback, make changes, and add content to feel it is ready to launch.

Platforms

Players fight a giant enemy in Moonbreaker.

For the time being, Moonbreaker is coming exclusively to the PC. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of it ever coming to consoles, as there are becoming fewer and fewer games purely exclusive to either PC or consoles, though it certainly won’t be until after the game leaves early access.

Trailers

Moonbreaker Full Presentation | Gamescom ONL 2022

Moonbreaker got its first reveal trailer when it was announced at Gamescom 2022. This was actually a fairly lengthy presentation on the game, with plenty of details to dig into.

The trailer opens on a planet, zooming in to an industrial city where a model figure of an armored knight slams down from orbit. A second figure slams down opposite the first, with more falling until two teams of different colorful creatures are formed.

We see a host of different battle environments and figures, plus some quick shots of gameplay that we’ll dissect in the following section. The main thing to note at this point, though, is that these are actual figures. That means, while there are voice lines and some graphical effects, the models themselves don’t animate at all. The entire figure will tilt, slide, and hop around the board, but for all intents and purposes, the figures are solid.

A quick screen indicates that you will be able to customize your team with whatever figures you like. This may just be for multiplayer purposes, though.

After the gameplay showcase ended, we got to see a small interview of sorts with Game Director Charlie Clevland, but the story details came out mostly in interviews off-stage. Primarily, and this was highlighted in the trailer, Moonbreaker will be written by famous author Brandon Sanderson who worked on The Wheel of Time series of novels. The world of the game will be focused around many orbiting moons that each have different lifeforms on them clashing together.

As for the campaign, well, there won’t be one. The story will be told through different mediums, including a podcast that you can access from within the game itself. Otherwise, details on the game or the world have yet to be discussed.

Gameplay

A player paints a bug-like miniature in Moonbreaker.

Moonbreaker is described as a “digital miniatures game,” and that’s a very apt name for it, as well as a cross between Hearthstone and XCOM. It is a turn-based strategy game played on a tabletop format of moving pieces, selecting moves, and defeating your opponent’s team. It will be a 1v1 game, either against other players or AI, with the starting roster having 50 characters to unlock. Each team will have a Captain, which are the more powerful units that have special powers, plus 10 minor units to manage.

These additional units, though, are not all available at once. Instead, you will get a random selection to place. Placing a unit and attacking both cost a currency called Cinder, so you will need to balance adding more units and attacking carefully.

As far as the XCOM inspiration goes, that mainly appears in how the units actually function on the map. Cover, range, and line of sight are all important factors to consider, with each one impacting hit chances.

The other half, or perhaps the majority of the game, depending on your personality, is the fully-featured figure-painting system. Pulling on the appeal of painting your own real-life figures, Moonbreaker lets you fully detail every unit you get in a robust editing mode.

There are tons of tools in this painting mode, including adjusting your brush and paint type, mixing colors, and a full importing and exporting system to share or download finished models. For fans of this type of thing, you could easily spend hours perfectly detailing every detail of your figures here, which is why that lore podcast mentioned earlier can be listened to while relaxing and painting your figures.

Multiplayer

Gameplay from a Moonbreaker match.

Right now, we do know that Moonbreaker will have multiplayer in the form of 1v1 matches. Anything beyond that, either in terms of modes, ranked matches, or any other forms of competition aside from regular duels is unknown.

The other way you can interact with others is through the previously-mentioned sharing of your custom paint jobs.

Pre-order

While you can’t pre-order Moonbreaker yet, even with an early access release date set, you can at least add it to your Steam wishlist to be notified about when it’s ready for pre-order and how much it will cost to join in.

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